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FIS And Equifax Look To Tackle Online Authentication With Data From Both Companies
August 23, 2017

By Kevin Woodward

As more and more consumers use mobile and online banking and make more purchases at e-commerce and mobile-commerce sites, the issue of authenticating the buyer is a growing concern among financial institutions, merchants, and payments providers. Now, Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (FIS) and Equifax Inc. have launched a service called OnlyID in a bid to help solve the problem.

Image Credit: FIS

Pigg: “This is to enable a consumer so they can authenticate themselves wherever they go.”

The service uses data from each company—in FIS’s case, information it has about consumers who have accounts at FIS institutions, and Equifax’s credit reports—combined with information such as the consumer’s mobile-phone location and transaction history to assess the identity of the user without using passwords.

“This is to enable a consumer to authenticate themselves wherever they go,” Esther Pigg, FIS senior vice president of product strategy, tells Digital Transactions News. Initial use cases include logging in to sites, account opening, and authentication for payment, Pigg says. She notes that the service does not provide funds authorization. “What we’re doing is saying this is [so-and-so] as you go to make a payment,” Pigg says.

Consumers will know if they can authenticate themselves using OnlyID when they are presented with that option on a Web site.

OnlyID, which will have a companion mobile app to enable consumers to manage their OnlyID information, works in conjunction with authentication services and a predictive-data modeling algorithm, Pigg says.

“With all of the consumer records and device data from the consumer’s mobile phone, tablet, or laptop device, we combine that information with their device data and feed an algorithm that predicts the likelihood of an identity match or the potential for identity fraud,” Pigg says.

A consumer’s initial use of OnlyID on a Web site will have a few authentication steps, but subsequent use will be easier, unless the service detects something awry.

Financial institutions that work with Jacksonville, Fla.-based FIS have little integration work to do to use OnlyID. Banks and credit unions that developed their own mobile or online banking platform also can use the service. Pigg says a software development kit is available to aid with the integration.

For merchants, the integration happens at the e-commerce-platform level, and will be available on ClearCommerce, an FIS service.

Passwords, security experts contend, are no longer strong enough to ward off fraud, yet consumers aren’t migrating away from the venerable username-and-password setup. Consumers finds passwords easier to use than alternatives, according to an Aite Group survey from earlier this year. Compared to seven other authentication methods, the 1,095 consumers surveyed for the report rated the user-name-and-password combination the easiest to use, edging out fingerprint scans.

Placing banks and other financial insitutions at the center of this effort is a smart move, says Al Pascual, senior vice president and research director at Pleasanton, Calif.-based Javelin Strategy & Research.

"The degree of rigor they apply to ascertaining the identity of a customer, and the ability to subsequently authenticate them is central to preventing financial loss and more worrying crimes such as terrorist financing," Pascual says in an email to Digital Transactions News. "All things considered, banks and other FIs are in the best position to certify and administer a digital identity, so this announcement is not a surprise." It's similar to what Capital One is doing with a series of digital identity application programming interfaces, he says.

A couple of challenges for these types of services are ensuring the bank or bank partner follows through on its know-your-customer protocols and if digital identities have been certified based on false information, Pascual says. "The associated financial and regulatory implications of such scenarioes remain to be seen."

The OnlyID marketing strategy is to jointly market the service to banks, credit unions, retailers, telecommunication providers, utility companies, and others. In some instances, Atlanta-based Equifax will take the sales lead, while FIS will in others, or both will make the pitch, Pigg says.

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